We are pressing on to higher ground (vv. 8-9). The Bible starkly contrasts two ways of living, either in the flesh or in the Spirit. To live in the flesh has little to do with whether you like gourmet foods, or fried chicken, to satisfy physical needs. The flesh in the present context refers to all physical desires, but especially those which lead into immortality. The Holy Spirit is the monitor of what is right or wrong as well as the victor for those who surrender to Him.
As an additional incentive, we are guaranteed a new body (vv. 10-11). The ravages of sin inflicted on our bodies becomes more evident the older we get. Simple activities that used to be natural become impossible as our bodies age. Giving a simple altar call is risky because older men kneeling at the altar cannot get up without assistance. But the state will someday be exchanged for a glorious life. The Spirit indwells us, the same One who raised Jesus from the dead. Our bodies shall be brought to new life. Jesus proved to the apostles in the upper room that His body, which appeared miraculously among then, contained the scars from the nails and the sword thrust into His side. Yet, John gazed on His glorified body on the Isle of Patmos and was stricken in awe as he fainted (Rev. 1:17). What a glorious transformation awaits us.
As though that were not enough, we look forward to a guaranteed inheritance (vv. 12-14). We do not have to live in spiritual defeat even though our bodies hinder us. We are called upon to mortify (put to death) the old man. Our natural inclination is to mortify a desire until it recedes. The biblical teaching is the polar opposite. We begin with the assurance the sin nature is dead. Because that element is dead, put it to death until we live. As we trust the Holy Spirit to win the battles for us, we are quickened, to use the language of the KJV (v. 14). In 1 Peter 1:4, 5, we look forward “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you [us!], who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
We rest assured of this glorious environment because we are participants in a sanctified family (vv. 16-17). When we read that we are waiting for our adoption. We are apt to do a double take. Were we not made children of God when we were born again? Besides the word never occurs in the Old Testament and but five times in the New. To gain perspective, we can begin with Ephesians 1:5, that we were predestined “unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ himself.” So adoption was in the mind of God from the beginning. Galatians 4:5 fills in a necessary gap, that by adoption we were redeemed from being under the law. Adoption, then, speaks of a position, to be treated as though we were actually Jewish. Our text in Romans 8:23 fills in another gap. That is, it assures the redemption of the body. Romans 15:4 asserts that even the Israelites are in need of adoption, to be released from the bondage of the law by being formally treated as though they were sons by adoption.
Finally, we chose with a reference to God’s holy prayer chain (vv. 26-27). Who among us has not been so distraught at time that we pray with groanings that cannot be uttered? Worry not. The Holy Spirit in us straightens out our prayer and communicates it directly to the Son of God, sitting at the right hand of God, interceding for us (Heb. 7:25). Without invoking the aid of angels or any man-made saints, we rest assured the Holy Spirit/Son connection is more than sufficient for us.
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